I enjoyed the Dominic subplot more than even the Colm / Padraic main plot. In my mind he stole the movie with his performance, delivering the best scenes such as the time he went to dinner with Padraic and Siobhan, when he asked Siobhan out, and finally the scene where he abandons Padraic. It was really great to see Ke Huy Quan get an Oscar, but this was the standout supporting role for me. Siobhan was terrific also, as she was in the HBO show Rome.
My take on the story, which is almost assuredly not the filmmakers intent:
Padraic is rejected by Colm, Siobhan, but also Dominic at different points in the movie. Padraic was a big part of the lives of all three characters, but each got to a point in their life where they had to leave him. I was reminded of Kierkegaard’s three stages of existence: the aesthetic, the ethical, and the religious.
Colm is the aesthetic, he is grappling with mortality due to advanced age and rejects Padraic out of his casual attitude towards the passage of time. Closely related to the romanticist, the aesthetic is dramatic and Colm cuts his fingers off and throws them on doors to prove his point. Note that he rejects Padraic because of the lack of sensory experience and pleasure that is associated with spending time with him.
Dominic is the ethicist. He could not care less about how boring Padraic is, rather he enjoyed being with one of the few people around who didn’t spend their time gossiping with ill intent. What made Dominic reject Padraic is the selfishness and maliciousness on display when Padraic told that man working with Colm about how his father died. Unfortunately for Dominic, as so often happens with ethicists, as soon as Padraic revealed his true colours he could not handle the hopelessness of his life and offed himself.
Siobhan is the religious. She has been with Padraic her whole life and spends a great deal of physical and mental energy caring for him out of duty. You could call this familial duty or religious duty, I think the spirit is the same in this case. She had to reject Padraic as she could see that her duty towards him only enabled his despair but felt horrible guilt doing it.
The film seems to be about these three people’s different reactions to the amoral and listless character of Padraic. But one thing I can’t reconcile with this notion that Padraic is the true villain of the film is that he had a strong affection for animals, which is certainly not a trait that villains often share.
The fingers, like the duality of the ending, make a lot more sense—indeed, probably only make sense—if you view them through the lens of the subtext of the civil war. It’s in there for a reason.
I have the same problem with friendship when it comes to the ending. If it’s a movie about friendship, then at that point nothing is resolved. We have no idea where their relationship is going.
Like Blue Valentine, this movie is not about their relationship but about its dissolution. The ending provides an answer to where they’re headed. They can’t break their bond (“There’s no ending some things, and I think that’s a good thing.” Or something like that.) but neither can they forget the damage that’s been done. The fact that much of the violence in the story seems extreme and senseless is a feature, not a bug, even if there were understandable (if unjustified) motives when it started.
Your reading doesn’t really contradict the predominant one here on QT3 so much as enhance it. The only thing you haven’t accounted for is the subtext, which is foundational here, not merely for texture.
Wars generally don’t involve people taking off their fingers and throwing them at someone else in an effort to be left alone. In wars you target other peoples fingers. Wars also require both parties to fight, which never happens here.
Padraic burns down his house because he’s upset about an accident, and has suffered a loss, which has nothing to do with his convictions, let alone politics. It’s just a desperate act by a grieving man.
The Civil War also very much involved the British. Where is the British Empire in the movie?
I don’t see any allusions to politics or warfare beyond those visuals in the background.
The Irish Civil War wasn’t unresolved. The anti-treaty forces lost. I see no indication of that in the movie.
Neither Colm nor Padraic seems to express any kind of political sentiment, beyond a distaste for police officers, which as Colm tells it is just a basic human feeling. It’s very much the opposite, as they’re watching the war with near-total indifference. I think their motives remain intensely personal throughout.
They’re not at odds over a political problem, they’re at odds over one man’s illness and another man’s mania.
The bond is greatly weakened, if not broken.
Colm: “Suppose me house makes us quits.”
Padraic: “If you’d stayed in your house, that would’ve made us quits. But you didn’t, did ya, so it doesn’t, does it?”
(These kinds of conversations are why I think it should’ve won screenplay)
The line isn’t “There’s no ending things”. Colm says he hasn’t heard rifle fire from the mainlaind in a day or two, and he says he thinks they’re coming to the end of it (he’s optimistic, which is another sign that he’s coming out of his depression). For Padraic it’s the opposite, his response is “I’m sure they’ll be at it again soon enough, aren’t you?”
An then he says the line “Some things there’s no moving on from, and I think that’s a good thing” which is one of the darkest things Padraic says the whole movie.
There’s a long way from the Padraic we see in the beginning of the movie, to the Padraic who thinks perpetual war or grief is a “good thing”, underlining the fact that he is changed, probably for good.
There’s another point I noticed when I watched it the second time, namely that Colm’s clothed are singed, and he has soot on his face when he stands there on the beach. I read that as an indication that he has sat in his cabin long enough to contemplate whether he was going to die there, and the simple fact that he jumped is another indication that he has turned a corner and decided to survive.
I don’t see how you would connect those feelings to any kind of political event.
Shit, that’s good. I love it!
To be fair, I don’t think Padraic is a villain, I think he’s a victim of his own perception. It is Padraic who is broken at the end of this movie, and I definitely feel for him. Poor Dominic, too.
Likewise, Colm’s depression doesn’t absolve him of responsibility, it only explains why he’s such a dick. Depression can do that to people. You spend so much energy grappling with those demons, and trying to survive, that you may end up scorning or hurting others in ways that are totally unacceptable.
I think that’s part of what makes the movie so good. I think a lot of people who have suffered depression, or tried to help people who suffer from depression can relate to those mechanisms.
So Colm is a villain, but not because he’s evil. None of it is that simple, and that’s part of the genius of the movie to me.
There’s a joke that people who care about more about their pets than they do about humans are sociopths. One is an animal that depends on them, over whom they have complete control, and the other is a thinking, feeling human being, with thoughts and desires that probably reflect their own, over whom they have no control.
I have no idea where it comes from, it just amuses me, and I don’t think it reflects on Padraic at all. Clearly his love of animals is the movie saying that he’s an okay dude deep down :)
It’s just not the whole story, because once he’s challenged by Colm, he’s plenty capable of being mean.
Ah, that’s the one, and there’s a duality of meaning there. The entire story centers on one of them not letting the other leave, and obviously the damage done cannot be forgotten either. Their bond is irreversibly damaged, but it can’t be broken.
I wouldn’t be the first one to point out this thread is more enjoyable than the movie itself, but I’ll phrase it more damningly: There are similar conversations dissecting The Last Jedi. (Mind you, this is a much better movie.)
I think that’s an extremely forced reading of the line. There’s absolutely no affection in his voice or on his face. Just anger and sorrow. I don’t see any duality in those emotions. The only time he looks even remotely pleased is when he looks down at the dog.
Colm says several times that he doesn’t like him that much, and maybe he never really did. And other characters kind of agree with him, which would seem to speak to Padraics flawed perception.
Gerry: That said, I did think the two of ye always made a funny pairing, like.
Padraic: No we didn’t
Gerry: Yeah, ye did.
Jonjo: Ye did.
Gerry: Obviously, ye did. 'Cause now he’d rather maim himself than talk to ya.
Then you missed the anger and sorrow on his face. There’s no affection there, and I don’t see how their relationship is resolved in any way. We have no idea what happens next, we just see where they are at that point in the story.
We see how Padraic has been wounded by his madness, and we see Colm starting to lighten up a little.
I would question that friendship. Based on the script, it almost feels predicated on the fact that they’re stuck on an island where there aren’t too many options. When he’s healthy, Colm tolerates Padraic. Once he becomes depressed, he can’t anymore.
I would say there’s a big difference between being friends and tolerating someone.
I do think they have a form of intimacy, even if it is by necessity, and that’s why Colm is mean to Padraic, and not the others. He’s disappointed and hurt that he still won’t listen when he needs it, and I think he gives up once he confides in him, and Padraic rebukes him for not remembering that he was talking about his pony’s shit.
Is that what a friend does? Do they burn down your house and leave you to die when you kill their baby donkey by accident? Maybe I’m lucky, but that’s not reflective of any friendship I’ve ever had.
I did not. They’re obviously not on good terms anymore, but they have a shared history that can’t be broken. They will forever be some part of each other’s lives, as will the bad blood between them. This is, not coincidentally, what happens when civil wars go cold.
Hey, I’m not the one arguing against the canonical interpretation of the movie. That’s true here on QT3 as much as it was in the wider world of film reviews. It’s even been dismissed as “mere” allegory, which I think is a bit harsh, especially after some of the insights you’ve teased out.
I don’t think you’re wrong about a lot of the details, but I do think they function more in service of that interpretation.
Predominant, if you prefer. Anyhow, I assume it’s fairly self-evident if so many people thought the same thing independently, which leaves the onus on anyone arguing against that interpretation to provide proof that it’s not anything more than a background detail.
For my part, I’m feeling a bit Colm about dissecting this movie any further, but I appreciate the insights. I’m not convinced they contradict the allegorical interpretation, but they do enrich it.
It’s interesting googling the movie and Irish history and seeing more than a few articles by (I presume) Irish writers saying Martin McDonagh doesn’t know a thing about Ireland or Irish history. Are they right? I can’t say!
There were a few stereotypes that I could identify even without being Irish.
The conversation between Colm and the priest about being gay. It’s long been said that in Catholic countries, if the male children seemed a little too interested in the same sex, they’d be sent off to seminary, because being gay isn’t a sin as long as you’re celibate, and I’m almost sure that that’s the implication Colm is making when they’re having that conversation.
The other one (maybe?) is the shopkeeper who rejoices at the idea of Dominic being beaten by his father. Obviously we’ve all heard stories about how Irish society chose not to see the abuse being leveled against single mothers and children in the past.
I’m not sure it’s there to critisize Ireland, I really didn’t get any kind of vibe like that from the movie. I think it’s there, as to @ArtVandelay’s point, to show that Inisherin is a fricken hard place, and if you are going through anything emotional, you have little hope for sympathy or understanding from anyone . That observation is what helped the movie click for me the second time around, so thanks for that @ArtVandelay!
I figured it was less that they don’t have sympathy so much as that thing in small, tight communities where people know they’re all ultimately stuck together so they try their best to avoid conflict. But maybe they are just hard, Siobhan seems to think so.
It surely is. The donkey is one death. The dog might also have died - I think someone mentions that Padraic might kill it, but at the end he not only spares the dog but ensures that it doesn’t die together with it’s master. It was already established that the dog cares a lot for Colm, when he tries to drag the shears away, so there’s a good chance that it would have died trying to get him to leave the house.
Yeah, I’m honestly not sure what it is, I just put it down as “old timey Irish hardness”, but that’s ultimately what helped me see the island from Colm’s perspective. It’s not a good place to be sad :)
It’s a fair read. Obviously the big question then is “Do animals count?” and if so for how much. If a miniature donkey only counts for half, has that confused Mrs McCormick’s death radar?
The reason I have it down as a macguffin is that she specifically mentions Padraic and Siobhan, and I see that as an attempt to make me fear for Siobhan. I know she’s going on a boat, and that makes me very anxious, and once Siobhan doesn’t die, it also makes me fear for Colm and Padraic in the final confrontation, so it creates stakes for those scenes that would otherwise not be there.
You could well be right, but I’m not sure it has deeper meaning within the movie, which makes me feel duped, because it’s in the title.
When Colm talks about banshees, I don’t think he’s talking about banshees, I think it’s like a rorschach test where his response describes his state of mind in that moment.